Une femme recommends: Never Short on Style

If you’re less than 5’4″ tall, you’re considered a Petite in fashion industry parlance, regardless of what size you wear. At 5’1″ moi-même, I’ve struggled at times to figure out why something that looked so good on a taller friend looked *terrible* on me, even though we were the same size theoretically.

I’ve purchased many, many style books over the years, but very few specifically addressed those of use who are Vertically Challenged™, beyond mentioning that a) we may need to shorten sleeves and pant legs, and b) that we should stay away from large prints. But in my own experience, finding styles that flatter a shorter frame is far more complicated that just saying no to oversized florals and lopping a few inches off a hem. Not all Petite women are shaped the same or have the same proportions. What applies to dressing for shape on a taller person also applies to us, but with some additional caveats.

That’s why when I learned image consultant Imogen Lamport (of Bespoke Image and the blog Inside Out Style) had written a style book specifically for Petites, I was thrilled. Having been fortunate enough to work with Imogen in person, I know first hand that she really knows this stuff Inside Out and in amazing detail. When I received the book, I was even more delighted; I’ve never seen a style guide this comprehensive!

For those who are looking for nuts-and-bolts style advice for Petites, this is the guide for you. From the broadest concepts such as which styles will flatter your body shape, body proportions (which I learned during our workshop are just as important as body shape for selecting clothing styles) and coloring down to details such as which jewelry or sunglasses will best suit your features, Imogen leaves no style stone unturned.  The book is illustrated throughtout with Polyvore-type images that clearly demonstrate the concepts Imogen describes.

I learn something new every time I pick up this book. For example, something as simple as where a brooch is placed can draw the eye upward and give the impression of more height.

You can purchase the e-book Never Short on Style here. But if you’re of average or tall height, or want some great tips for travel wardrobes, check out Imogen’s other available e-books, Your Essential Style Guide, and Travelling Light. If you’re fortunate enough to live in Australia, Imogen also teaches workshops and works with individual clients.

Bespoke Image (Imogen’s Home Page)
Inside Out Style Blog
Imogen on Facebook

Disclosure: Imogen provided a complimentary copy of this e-book for me to review.

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  1. June 13, 2011 / 1:59 pm

    SO helpful. We “petites” are often ignored – especially those of us who are truly petite (5’4″ means many more options than those of us who are around 5′ tall).

    And well endowed along with being petite? Not so simple!

  2. June 13, 2011 / 2:31 pm

    I’m 5ft 4 and have only just realised that I am considered petite by others – even though I’ve been shortening all of my sleeves by two inches for years – I just thought I had stumpy arms.

  3. June 13, 2011 / 2:31 pm

    I’m 5ft 4 and have only just realised that I am considered petite by others – even though I’ve been shortening all of my sleeves by two inches for years – I just thought I had stumpy arms.

  4. June 13, 2011 / 3:20 pm

    I’ve been reading Inside Out Style for years and I’m so happy that Imogen has finally come out with a book. I wish her great success!

  5. June 13, 2011 / 4:22 pm

    I am petite and have “extra padding”…
    I wonder how she would tackle that challenge!

    The images that I see of you show that you know what to wear and how to accessorize.
    It’s always fun to learn new tricks and it look like Imogen has done her homework.

    I enjoy her reports as well.

  6. Jane and Lance Hattatt
    June 13, 2011 / 11:41 am

    This looks to be the most perfect addition to the ‘petite’ woman’s fashion bookshelf. As you say, the matter of what works for shorter women is not as simple as just scissoring off the hems. Your most comprehensive review is certainly sufficient to convice that Imogen really does know what she is writing about. Thank you for the tip.

  7. Frugal Scholar
    June 13, 2011 / 2:23 pm

    I’m medium-sized and I think these tips would work for anyone. That column idea also makes getting dressed very easy because it works as a kind of uniform.

  8. coffeeaddict
    June 13, 2011 / 6:01 pm

    This really is interesting. I’ll have to look into it some more. I came to realize I usually position my brooches higher up, mostly because I don’t want to draw attention to my ample bossom, but now I see that tthe reson for working so well just might be because I’m as you say Vertically Challenged.
    Is there no limit to political correctness 😉

  9. metscan
    June 13, 2011 / 6:32 pm

    The subject is interesting. Like in everything, proportions play a strong role.
    And – this is important for men as well!
    Lately, I have seen too many shortened jeans, shortened because some need a larger size due to the ” extras “.
    Somehow, shortened jeans always look out of proportion.

  10. June 14, 2011 / 1:41 am

    Jane and Lance Hattatt – this really is one of the best guides ever. Imogen is indeed very knowledgeable and communicates her knowledge clearly and succinctly.

    Big Little Wolf – it’s true, even those 3-4″ make a big difference! Imogen also covers the “petite but well endowed” territory here too!

    Frugal Scholar – I agree, the “column of color” is probably almost universally flattering.

    Bourbon & Pearls – you appear taller in your pictures, probably because you’re slender and your clothes fit you so well!

    Belle de Ville – she actually has just published an accessories guide too! Her e-books are fabulous.

    hostess – Imogen covers all body types, including the “padded” ones (and I count myself in that number). I’ve learned a *lot* about dressing to flatter my shape from Imogen.

  11. June 14, 2011 / 1:53 am

    coffeeaddict – the “vertically challenged” was meant as a bit of humor…I have no problem with the word “short!” 🙂

    metscan – yes, men too will find that certain styles work better for their shapes. I guess the question of shortening jeans is a tricky one…we don’t want our hems to drag on the ground either.

    WendyB – you’re very well proportioned too. And yeah, QE1 was definitely a role model for positive self image!

    Imogen – it was my pleasure! This is a FANTASTIC style guide!!

  12. June 14, 2011 / 2:05 am

    This looks like a very helpful guide, especially for those of us who already enjoy Imogen’s great blog.

  13. June 14, 2011 / 3:45 am

    Imogen is always a font of information about proportions and body shapes; glad you found her latest e-book useful!

    [Those who want a taste before buying should go check out her tip-filled blog.]

  14. metscan
    June 14, 2011 / 5:27 am

    Susan, just a short reply- I know this one special guy ( petite for a man ). I have always seen him wearing jeans, but because he is very slim, he can either wear the small men sizes ( maybe even get his from the children´s department ), but the jeans are so perfect for him. No need to have them shortened. Likewise, I have seen another man, who wears jeans too all the time. He is a bit ” wide “, and so has had his jeans shortened, and immediately I notice the unbalance.
    Maybe there would be work for a taylor, who could do the shortening successfully, invisibly, which means that the plain shortening is not all the jeans acquire. There must be some ” in-takes” all the way from the top to bottom.
    Sorry, for going into this jeans business so deeply, but since jeans are worn practically by everyone, they should fit perfectly. And when I see the simple shortening method used, I really get annoyed.

  15. Susan Tiner
    June 14, 2011 / 5:25 pm

    I’ve ordered it!

  16. June 15, 2011 / 12:48 am

    I utilize the column of color idea often even though I am 5’8″. I would like to see a whole book devoted to the hour glass shape. I’ve been packing for a trip to NYC this weekend–and think I can fit everything in a carry on suitcase. I was inspired here!

  17. Lynda
    June 17, 2011 / 2:26 pm

    Hi, love your blog. I also read Imogene’s and bought her book on petites. I am still unsure as to what letter I am. I think I am an H but my shoulders are a little small. I am 5’3″ and lookng at your pictures I seem to the same at you. Please, what letter are you?

  18. June 17, 2011 / 3:34 pm

    Lynda – I’m an H. No waist to speak of, shoulders and hips about the same width.

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